Russia-Ukraine war: Live updates

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Russia-Ukraine war: Live updates

Fighting is continuing to rage in Ukraine. It has been over 70 days since Russian forces launched a full-scale offensive into Ukrainian territories. This article from scheerpost is somewhat lengthy, but outstanding. It attempts to investigate the origins of the war. It's amazing how western media just conveniently gloss over how this got started, as if Russia just suddenly decided to take over the world like a thunderbolt on a clear day. There are no objective reasons for this conflict, no national interests at play. Only pure abstract evil.

However, I disagree slightly with the article. I believe that the US has not exerted very much pressure on Ukraine to reject the Minsk Protocol. The Biden government is focused on economic recovery, and sanctioning Russia at this point would be insane. Maybe Biden is stupid? It is more likely what I previously stated in my post here.

Zelensky's hands were tied by nationalist forces, which prevented him from dealing with Russia in a manner that may have averted this war. Neo-Nazis have a long history in Ukraine, dating all the way back to their collaboration with Hitler during the Second World War. Look up Stefan Bandera. In 2014 he was proclaimed a national hero by the Ukraine. In 1939, Germany and the Soviet Union agreed to split seized Poland roughly along the Bug River, with the Germans claiming everything west and the Soviets claiming everything east. Stalin personally drew the dividing line that divided Poland. Initially drawn to the west of Warsaw, he decided to extend it east of the city and Lublin, granting Germany control of the majority of Poland's most densely inhabited and industrialized provinces. Stalin desired Lvov and its vast oil reserves, as well as Lithuania, which abuts East Prussia. Thus, WESTERN UKRAINIANS ARE EASTERN POLES.

Instantly, a campaign of widespread persecution began in the newly seized territory. Around 13.5 million Polish citizens who were occupied by the military were converted to new Soviet subjects. A wave of arrests and quick executions marked the start of a Soviet campaign of political murders and other forms of repression directed at Polish authorities such as military officers, police officers, and clergymen. Between 1939 and 1941, the Soviet NKVD deported hundreds of thousands of people from eastern Poland to Siberia and other remote parts of the Soviet Union in four major waves, until Germany terminated its earlier pact with the Soviet Union and invaded the Soviet Union under the code name Operation Barbarossa in the summer of 1941.

Numerous Poles supported the Germans because they despised the Russians, who were dominated by Jewish leadership. Andriy Biletsky, a far-right politician and leader of the political organization National Corps, formed the Azov brigade. Andriy Parubiy, creator of Svoboda and the Patriots of Ukraine, the latter of which evolved into the Azov Battalion of today. These men are all neo-nazis, but their primary targets are Jews, Roma gypsies, and LGBTQ and women's rights advocates.

As a result, Zelensky chose to wage war with Russia in order to eliminate the nationalist elements while also gaining votes and power. Whatever members of Azov (nationalist forces battalion) are still alive at the conclusion of this war will be moved to various European nations and utilized as a "white ISIS" terrorist outfit against Russia. Azov has already claimed the lives of tens of thousands of civilians. Zelensky has directed Azov to kill anyone who attempts to surrender, which Azov has been doing.

In Russian culture, Ukrainians, or "Malorussians", are traditionally viewed as extremely stubborn. This is a known quantity, so to speak. Back in 2015, there was a joke about the war: Donbass Militiaman Ivan shouts at Ukrainian soldier Taras, “Give up, you’re surrounded!”, and Taras answers: “Russians don’t surrender!”. Fighting Slavs is hard.

The situation in Ukraine: current status

This guy Scott Ritter, covers the Russia military operation pretty well:

Dude makes a lot of interesting points. A lot of people have no understanding of military science at all. Thus their opinions are stupid and far off-base. As far as I can tell, the Russian General Staff was prepared for three or four scenarios, which included Kyiv backing down (implying a timeline of a few days), the Ukrainian Army disintegrating (implying a timeline of around six weeks) and the war going on as a real war (implying a timeline of roughly six months of active large-scale hostilities). Currently, the third scenario seems to be implemented.

From what I understand, the Russian General Staff did expect a swift Ukrainian surrender as “Plan A”. That doesn’t mean that Plans B, C, D and E were made up ad hoc or given a lower priority. One possible outcome the Kremlin probably expected was a speedy capitulation and the installation of a moderately pro-Russian regime in Kyiv, basically a return to the status quo antebellum of 2010-2013. I have heard from reliable sources that the plans were adjusted on day 2 or 3 of the war when it became obvious that this would not happen.

I had speculated pre-invasion that the most likely scenario was a limited Russian offensive to seize the Donbas and create a land bridge to Crimea. That now seems to be Russia’s primary goal, but in the early days of the war it appeared that the Russian military was attempting to surround Kiev. There are now commentators, such as Scott Ritter and Soldo, who insist that the forces deployed around Kiev were simply a feint to tie down the Ukrainian military while Russian and DNR/LNR forces made progress in the East. They herald this as a brilliant example of “maneuver warfare.” The goal was simply to prevent Ukraine from reinforcing its forces in the East. This makes a lot of sense, Russia never initiated airstrikes or artillery bombardment around Kiev on the scale that I would expect to support a serious advance. And when Putin announced the so-called “special military operation,” he framed it as being focused on the Donbas.

I think it is too early to judge the Kiev operation, as its worth will be determined by the outcome of the Battle for Donbass. It is, however, noteworthy that we haven’t heard much from the Ukrainian Army’s Operational Command “North” since the Russian withdrawal. I have seen no evidence of the “victorious” Ukrainian troops around Kiev being able to reinforce other parts the East or even staging some sort of counter-offensive. They don’t seem to be in the condition to do much of anything.

The Western media idea that Ukraine would fall within a week was based on two misconceptions. The first one is mistaking the Armed Forces of Ukraine of 2022 for those of 2014. In 2014, Ukrainian forces in Crimea either changed sides or laid down their arms with no resistance, and even before the (extremely limited) Russian intervention the Donbass militias, who at that point were made up mostly of middle-aged veterans and volunteers, managed to rout vastly superior Ukrainian army units. The Ukrainian government admitted that at that point they had no more than ~5000 combat-ready soldiers in the standing army. The Ukrainian Army of 2022, however, are a huge force (the largest in Europe, aside from Russia) in a militarized society, juiced up on eight years of NATO supplies and training, and, of course, their own efforts. The regular army is supported by a vast network of paramilitary structures in every city in the east of the country, including the formal integration of highly motivated ideological formations made up of political extremists.

The second reason why so many people seemed to expect a swift Russian victory is that they judged the possible Russian performance based on the experiences of the last Western-led wars. I maintain that if Russia had unleashed a hellish Shock & Awe campaign in Ukraine, the Ukrainian Army would have disintegrated on impact, which is also exactly what it looked like in the first 12 hours of the war. Later we learned that the Armed Forces of Russia executed fewer missile and airstrikes in a month than the US did in a few days in Iraq. In living memory, no Western nation has fought a war “on its own soil”, or at least in a location where the lives of the local population mattered to them. They do not understand why Russia wouldn’t just flatten every city in Eastern Ukraine. The official (and unofficial) Russian position is that the Russian-Ukrainian population of these territories is held hostage by an irrational nationalist regime in Kiev. Of course, within such a paradigm it doesn’t make much sense to reduce population centers to rubble.

With all that said, I do, however, believe that there were also mistakes in the Russian General Staff regarding the expectation of mass surrenders. Either these were based on the outdated Crimean experience, or on bad intelligence. I tend to think it was the latter, as Russian intelligence seems to have suffered several huge failures, certainly more than the military. My understanding is that operational command in the initial phase of the conflict was held by officers with combat experience in Syria — which makes sense, as that is the “freshest” combat experience available to the Armed Forces of Russia, but it also led to several costly mistakes that were later corrected, e.g. the large military convoys that were appropriate in a desert area with a technologically inferior enemy, but vastly inappropriate in urban or forest areas with an enemy who has a virtually endless supply of ATGMs. Russian vanguard troops outpacing supply lines in the first days is also an established fact and this led to a majority of the casualties in the earliest phase of the war. This, too, was corrected, and doesn’t seem to be a problem anymore.

The criticism of the FSB seems justified too. There is this persistent myth about Russian intelligence being extraordinarily powerful (manipulating elections in the US, causing Brexit, etc), but the reality looks different. I never gave credence to the claims that Russia had either interfered in the election tabulation or that it had significantly shaped public discourse in the United States. Overall, there seem to have been leaks to the Ukrainian side, although this could also have come directly from Western intelligence agencies. In any case, the FSB & SBU were, to a large extent, a single structure until late 2013, and the FSB seems to have done way less to “purge” its ranks of possible moles than the Ukrainians.

Regarding logistics and vehicle losses, Western analysts have made some ridiculous assessments. The loss of BTRs without loss of life is not really a problem. There are tens of thousands of those things in Russia. It's basically a genocide of “Late Soviet Tech". The attrition is extreme in material terms, but it doesn’t matter, as the supplies are basically infinite. The Armed Forces of Russia also seem to be holding back newer and better vehicles. E.g. I’ve only seen the T-90 two or three times on photos so far and the modernized BMP-1AM “Basurmanin” only once.

Wars are generally just means of getting rid of all the old military equipment and ammunitions that are expiring, too old to store! All the *new* NATO countries are giving their old Soviet era equipment to Ukraine’s war effort with the US telling them they can upgrade to new equipment purchases. US normally picks some poor country to invade and dump bombs on every decade before the expiration date arrives on the missiles and ammunitions.

Apparently Russia never realized how important it is to use modern ammunitions and about half their missiles are duds or never get anywhere near their target, lots just plop into the ground a few hundred meters from the launchers… beyond the poor manufacturing and crappy delivered equipment and supplies, how much can be pocketed by everyone in the supply chain.

It seems that the most decisive victories for Ukraine have been in the area of molding international perception. Looking at not just the traditional Western media landscape but also the social-media commons of e.g. Twitter and Facebook, one is tempted to conclude that “Russians can’t meme.” In times of war, PR/propaganda and intelligence work merge into one big chaotic maelstrom of lies and information management. The Kremlin’s “media people” are already pretty bad in times of peace, but in the current situation it has become clear that they are terrifyingly unsuited for their jobs. I saw this coming, to be honest. What I didn’t see coming is how strong the grassroots replacement for the “official” people would be. It really looks like the people tasked with courting Ukrainian elites on behalf of Russia have failed miserably, or, more likely, didn’t do their job at all and just pocketed the money. This first became apparent (in my opinion) in 2014 when it turned out that the “Create pro-Russian movements in Ukraine” department at whatever government agency was responsible for that didn’t do anything and all the actual pro-Russian organizations were grassroots. It looks like the situation hasn’t improved at all.

Much of this will become public knowledge only after the war (or never), but it’s really crazy what people are achieving with zero resources running on pure enthusiasm. Crowdsourced Russian OSINT is in direct communication with the Armed Forces, providing public geolocation and other services. There are several Telegram bots where pro-Russian locals (or simply locals who don’t like being used as human shields) can send coordinates and photos of Ukrainian targets like strongpoints, ambushes, hidden repair workshops, artillery positions, etc. The Novorossiya underground also actively supports the Russian war effort with intel. There are many examples like this of “media” warping into something physical, something kinetic. A few well-placed photoshopped images actually managed to cause real-life panic several times. The “red mark” thing, a rumor among Ukrainians that “traitors” and “saboteurs” were marking buildings to be bombed with tags or lasers, distracted Ukrainian authorities and security forces for a whole month — and it was started by a Donbass activist.

When it comes to international “information warfare”, there is quite literally nothing. If the Russian government had the foresight and capacity to put intelligent young people in charge of its intelligence and information policies, everything would look very different and, who knows, maybe this war could have been avoided in the first place.

I don’t know how much impact the Ukrainian social media success really has on the military situation. I honestly don’t believe that it’s a lot. People in the West are generally more gullible when it comes to media than Russians; they largely believe whatever they’re told.

In any case, going off the deep end with regards to propaganda may just turn out to be a mistake for Kiev. You already have Presidential advisors commenting on clips that are very clearly authentic and filmed by Ukrainian soldiers on Ukrainian positions complaining that they aren’t being given the means to more effectively fight Russians, and claiming that these clips are staged and the Ukrainians in them are actually POWs forced to tell lies about their officers abandoning them. But these soldiers have families and friends. The 3000-4000 Ukrainian POWs who don’t exist according to Kiev also have families and friends. So do the thousands upon thousands of Ukrainian soldiers who were KIA. There are protests at recruitment centers in Western Ukraine, people’s phones are being searched and confiscated if they read the “wrong” Telegram channels in Nikolayev. It’s extremely hard to keep up this disinfo regime. Kiev had remarkable success in unifying the information stream and e.g. keeping information about damage from missile strikes to a minimum. But the worse things get, the harder this will be. And when the cracks start to show, all the Western PR agencies in the world won’t be able to reconcile the lie and the reality on the ground.

What’s actually the most worrying thing here is Western leadership ostensibly “getting high on their own supply”. If intelligence agencies, whom I assume to have a realistic picture, withhold information from “policymakers” and the latter as well as “thought leaders” base their reasoning on laughably wrong propaganda takes written up by morons – stupid things can happen. But they may also not, because, it kind of doesn’t matter anyway.

I don’t know what is planned, but it’s becoming obvious that Kherson oblast and the parts of Zaporozhye oblast under Russian control are slowly being integrated into the Russian socio-economic sphere, so I believe some form of annexation or at least separation from the hypothetical rump state is likely. It kind of depends on what happens in Western Ukraine/Galicia. There are persistent rumors about Poland being interested in establishing control over some of its “historical territories”, and any kind of situation like this could lead to a sudden avalanche of forced territorial concessions.

The situation in Russia

The sanctions don't seem to be doing much anymore. Prices appear to be going back to normal

Many Russians with advanced degrees who work for foreign corporations have taken advantage of visa-free travel to former Russian republics such as Georgia and Armenia draining Russia of anyone with talents for developing the country… probably giving the US a few million more highly skilled people over the next decade. However, the fact is Russia anticipated sanctions months before the war and prepared. Russian oligarchs moved money through an informal payment system called Hawala. The Hawala payment system is a system that allows for the transfer of funds from one entity to another without actually moving any money. There is no record as it doesn't require documentation. In other words, Hawala allows individuals or entities to carry out transactions outside of traditional banking systems.

The proposed EU oil embargo seem like a sad joke. Oil is a global commodity and, as such, any oil not purchased from Russia will simply find a home elsewhere. All that loss of Russian oil on the world market would drive up the price of a barrel of oil. Poor countries would not be able to afford oil at $140 to $170 dollars a barrel. They would buy that discounted oil preventing that steep increase. That would increase transportation costs but I'm sure someone somewhere would buy it and help fill the gap along with China and India. And if not, the hammers Russia but it's also bad for the entire global economy. We already have one quarter of negative growth, one more quarter and we're officially in a recession. So it would be hardest on Russia but it would be bad for the entire world, and poor countries around the world would also be hammered.

The gas situation is another joke. Germany is going to ban Russian gas and import it from Hungary?

This is best channel I've

This is best channel I've seen with a balanced collection of both sides, strategic overview

Watch the most current video. It is essentially a unit-by-unit analysis of their progress. I must say, the Ukrainians are fighting hard. Nothing like 2014. I anticipate that the Russians will continue to advance south from Izium. And will try again with a competent army to replace the units withdrawn from Kiev. And attempt to encircle the lines in the East, eventually forcing the Ukrainians to retreat; however, the Russians may need complete mobilization of their two million reservist. The Russians are essentially at war with NATO. So this is absolutely no cake walk…

The war of attrition

The "war of attrition" has begun in Ukraine, as Russian forces make a grinding push using heavy artillery shelling in the south and east of the country alongside deep strikes further west into Ukraine in an attempt to disrupt logistical supply lines used by the West. In the long term, Russian President Vladimir Putin's objective is to capture the broader Donbas region, where Ukrainians and Russians have been fighting since 2014, as well as the land bridge linking mainland Ukraine to Russian-occupied Crimea. However, Russian forces — pushing from the east, south, and from the north area of Izium, in eastern Ukraine, while using heavy artillery shelling — have still not made much progress on the ground.

The remaining part of the Donbas that the Russians are trying to secure has complex terrain with substantially sized rivers and urban areas. If they succeed in securing and moving past the southern Kherson region, the Russians could push on to the port city of Odesa further west. But this is unlikely because it would require a complex amphibious operation, and Russia also does not have enough troops in place to expand to the southern coast.

Russia has also been carrying out deep strikes beyond the line of contact to target resupply lines and western military assistance flowing into Ukraine, carrying out intense bombardment of storage facilities, bridges and railways, as well as missile strikes on power stations in the western city of Lviv.

It is difficult to assess the number of Russian casualties, but the European official suggested that Russia has suffered heavy losses during the war, with between 10,000 to 20,000 Russian soldiers killed so far, as well as 30,000 wounded. Ukraine has not released an official death toll of its forces, but I'm guessing that number is double.

As the war drags on, Russia will feel the economic effects of the sanctions, which is likely to have practical consequences for Putin's ambition. The Ukrainians, who are receiving a continuous supply of western security assistance, are agile in terms of their military movement, compared with the Russian's heavy and less mobile military, making it easier for the Ukrainians to target them according to this European official.

The U.S. assesses that Russia will try to forcibly annex the newly occupied Kherson region, along with the so-called "people's republics" of Donetsk and Luhansk in the coming weeks or months. Russia is already switching the local schools to using the Russian curriculum, forcing civilians to use the ruble as currency, renaming towns and has cut off internet and cell phone transmission in those areas.

Size matters

There is no doubt in military intelligence circles that Ukraine will lose, and will lose more than they would have if they had just accepted the peace settlement Russia offered and given up two destitute industrial towns and some island. Russia's military stands at around 1.5 million armed force personnel – five times greater than that of Ukraine which has 311,000 armed.

Now Russian forces are slicing Ukraine in half, and the entire eastern territory looks like it will be annexed by Russia. If you are familiar with Russian history, you will know that Russia has no qualms about depopulating vast swaths of hostile territory and moving its own people in. 

Nearly 6.5 million people have already been forcibly displaced within Ukraine, adding to the almost 3.3 million and counting who have fled the country since 24 February. 

Combined, the number of internally displaced persons (IDPs) and those who have fled to other countries amount to around 9.8 million people – more than 23 per cent of the country’s population.

Thus, under Zelensky's command, Ukraine stands to lose 40% of its territory, accumulate over 60,000 dead citizens and more than $250 billion in damages

The situation is as follows: On the street, a man approaches you with a baseball bat and demands that you pay him 5% of what you have in your pockets or he will beat the shit out of you. He stands over 6'6" and weighs 300 pounds, compared to your 5'6" and 140 pounds. Are you truly so stupid as to attempt a fight? You are not permitted to bargain. You're going to get beaten and die. That is also the case with Ukraine. They can either give Russia 10% or battle it out, get their ass kicked, and then lose everything in their pocket.

Unless you're insane, you don't battle an opponent five times your strength unless you're backed by a gang (NATO) or their demands are so irrational you’ll likely die as a result. In this situation, Russia has already gotten everything it wanted for the last eight years; all they want now is for Ukraine to sign some paperwork agreeing that they will not attempt to reclaim their shit. Of course, after ten years, when Putin dies, they can attempt to reclaim their shit, as Russia is likely to disintegrate economically and fragment into small states. Why continue this hopeless war and lose everything? Very simple, Zelensky doesn’t care about about Ukrainians. He cares about Fame and fortune. However, when the Russians get close enough to Kyiv and start threatening his life, he’s going to surrender with Ukraine in total ruin.


What a waste

If Russians were any smarter they wouldn’t have fallen into the trap setup for them… a shitshow for Putin, with the PR war completely lost, nobody will or want to “trust” Putin or Russia for decades to come, depriving China of its trading partner (well anything more than a raw resource partner due to them being ostracized by the West), which is the whole aim of choking off Russia to continue to be another 3rd world country nobody wants to go to or be associated with.

They will deprive China of being able to rely on Russia to defend themselves against the West. Divide and conquer, China has been increasing military spending for a decade and it shows… military weapons, size of the Navy… but they are still in the 20th century thinking… Russia has been trying to outthink the 20th century to get ahead but they don’t have enough insight to think about the world that exists today and how to win in it… 

China will happily bleed them of raw resources for their billion plus people. Sad these leaders fail to see the present or future problems… oligarchs are a dying breed, mostly due to the competition they face, this only gets worse with every new technological development cycle… more people compete and more technology is available for competition to outcompete the old dogs who just use manual labor.

If you read the “great reset” you understand how insane it’ll be in another two decades with robotic manufacturing and material processing… Russia falls apart as the world passes it by with Russia going after the resources it’ll be a bloodbath until Russia is banned from the ability to party in the West… 

The West has wanted the small parts of the world to fully go western that hadn’t, like Cypress and Monaco… now those places will become desolate and dangerous even for the few Russians who make it there because the oligarchs will mostly be stuck in Russia and no other Russians will be able to afford traveling…

Putin could have engaged Ukraine as their western allie and become European through Ukraine but Putin and his oligarchs didn’t want to give up their fake little empires of Russian resources.

Sanctions are not working

Soaring oil and gas prices have helped Russia more than triple its current account surplus to $96 billion, its largest in 28 years. Russia has a current account surplus of $95.8 billion in the first four months of 2022, central bank data shows. That's more than triple the $27.5 billion from the same span last year.

Russian oil export revenue is up 50% since the start of 2022, the International Energy Agency said last week. Kyiv has accused the EU of funding Putin's war machine by continuing to import Russian energy. The EU has spent approximately $58 billion on Russian energy since Putin announced the onset of Russia's so-called "special military operation" in Ukraine in late February, according to the Center for Research on Energy and Clean Air.

Last week, the International Energy Agency said Russian oil export revenue is up 50% since the start of 2022 with the Kremlin generating close to $20 billion per month in sales.

Export volume has rebounded to levels seen before Russia invaded Ukraine. In April, Russian oil exports climbed by 620,000 barrels per day from the prior month to 8.1 million, back to their January and February average, the IEA said.

Revenue from oil and gas sales — as well as Moscow's strict capital controls — have helped prop up Russia's ruble, which has become the world's top-performing currency against the dollar.

Ukraine is in worse shape than portrayed in the media

Russia now controls significantly more Ukrainian territory than before February 24. Putin’s army holds Kherson, whatever is left of Mariupol, all the intervening territory, and now not only Luhansk and Donetsk but the entire Donbas Oblast. For example, whereas Ukrainian authorities controlled approximately 60% of Luhansk before the recent Russian invasion, now Russian forces control over 80% of the region. They also have about 70% of Zaporizhye region. Cumulatively, this accounts for an increase of Russian occupied territory from approximately 7%, including Crimea, before February more than double that now. Viewed this way, not losing looks a lot more like losing than winning.

Ukraine’s Ministry of Defense is not releasing combat casualty numbers to maintain morale, but experts believe it has lost at least 25,000 troops — up to 11,000 deaths and 18,000 wounded —since the February 24 invasion. Over two and a half months into the war, Ukraine’s losses are at least 10% of their now undoubtedly exhausted army of under 250,000.

Economically, Ukraine is surviving, but only that. The sanctions on Russia that are expected to cause a less than 7% contraction in GDP compare rather unfavorably to the 45-50% GDP collapse Ukraine is facing. At least 25% of businesses are closed, although the number that have completely stopped has fallen from 32% in March to 17% in May. But a Black Sea blockade of Ukraine’s ports—Mariupol, Odesa, Kherson, and others—by Russia’s navy is preventing both the import of fuels to power the agricultural sector, and also the export of grain and other Ukrainian products. The inability to export is costing Ukraine’s economy $170 million per day. Meanwhile, Russia is targeting Ukrainian fuel storages, grain silos, and agricultural equipment warehouses, damaging already tattered supply chains. The power sector is facing default because so few Ukrainian citizens and companies are able to pay their electricity bills.

Not only is May a critical agricultural month, but it is when Naftogaz usually starts buying natural gas to store it for the cold Ukrainian winter. The state-owned energy giant was already in bad shape before the invasion, with the CEO asking the Ukrainian government for a $4.6 billion bailout in September 2021. Now, with very tight gas markets and no funds, it is unclear how the country can prepare for winter, when temperatures can fall to below 20 Fahrenheit. Adding to the prospect of a tragic 2022-2023 winter, most of Ukraine’s coal mines are in the Donbas, where Russia’s offensive continues.

Ukraine went into the war in good shape, with its economy growing at an annualised quarter-on-quarter pace of almost 7%; strong prices for its exports of grain, iron and steel; a well-regulated banking industry and a government deficit of less than 3% of gdp last year. Its debt stood at just under 50% of gdp, a number that many finance ministers can only dream of. An impressively digitised tax and benefits system means that revenues are still coming in smoothly from the parts of the economy that are still functioning. Pensions and government salaries are all still being paid, even in areas that are now under Russian occupation, thanks to resilient digital systems and a surprisingly unscathed internet. Most businesses, for now, are still paying their employees, even if they cannot operate as normal, or at all.

The U.S. government decided in May to symbolically move some of its diplomatic staff back into Kyiv, partially reversing its rapid, defeatist withdrawal when it assumed Kyiv would fall within days. President Biden has even, finally, nominated a U.S. ambassador to Ukraine after more than a three-year leadership gap. The message this and E.U. gestures send is important. But despite our desire to see in outmatched Ukraine’s survival a tale of David beating Goliath, and to cheer ourselves for donating the slingshot, the country is seriously, dangerously weakened.

Recent reports that 25,000-30,000 are returning daily to Ukraine from abroad are encouraging, but Ukraine faced a brain drain problem before the invasion. The poorest country in Europe, many citizens were already trying to leave. Before the war, Ukrainians were the third largest immigrant population in the E.U., behind only Morocco and Turkey. Now, the International Labor Agency estimates that 4.8 million jobs have been lost in Ukraine, which will rise to seven million if the war continues. And after many months of war, children will have settled in new schools abroad, mothers will be integrating in their new worlds, and both will be waiting for their husbands and fathers to join them. Some will return to Ukraine, of course, but many will prioritize their family’s comfort and children’s opportunities over the calls of patriotism.


For Ukrainians, time is running out

They are losing more than 500 soldiers every day. Over a quarter of Ukraine's armed forces and an area larger than England have been lost. Russian soldiers are advancing from the territory surrounding the besieged city of Severodonetsk and crossing the few captured bridges. The highway leading to Severodonetsk is under Russian fire control. In three weeks, Russia should have complete control over the Donbas. However, Kyiv continues sending tens of thousands of middle-aged bus drivers and plumbers to the Donbas to be massacred, while their shock troops are at home capturing political dissidents in a STASI-like manner. The police are going door-to-door to the homes of suspected dissidents and inspecting their cell phones for pro-Russian memes. If any were discovered, you know the drill.

So it looks like Ukraine will lose Donbass and other eastern regions amidst almost 60,000 deaths and an economy on the edge of collapse. Russia's objectives in Ukraine have always concentrated on the Donbass and the Crimean peninsula. They attacked the remainder of the country to prevent Ukraine from sending an additional 200,000 troops from other regions of Ukraine to Donbass to augment the 60,000 already present. In eight years, with the assistance of NATO and the United States, Ukraine constructed the second largest army in Europe. Generally, it was an even contest. 200,000 Russians versus 200,000 Ukrainians. With up to two million troops in reserve, Russia could easily overrun the Ukrainians.

There is a particular reason why Zelensky remained in Kiev. If he remained, he knew from American intelligence that 40,000 Russian troops would be unable to capture a city with a population of 3.5 million while 100,000 Ukrainian troops held the line. The objective of the Russian maneuver was to coerce the Ukrainians into capitulating and to prevent its shock troops from leaving Kyiv so that Russian army group 2 could more easily seize Eastern Ukraine.

Poland has started cutting aid for Ukrainian refugees

Polish authorities expect Ukrainians to start working and to be able to support themselves. From Friday, July 1, the state will stop paying benefits to citizens who provide asylum to refugees. Under the law adopted in March, Polish households that were hosting Ukrainian refugees were entitled to daily payments of $7 (40 zloty) to cover food and residence expenses. Poland’s deputy interior minister Pawel Szefernaker announced that the measure will no longer be available.

In addition, the free travel period for Ukrainian citizens ends in Poland from July 1, and it was canceled in Warsaw a month ago.

In May, the head of the Polish Ministry of Internal Affairs said that Ukrainian refugees leave the country more often than they enter. According to the data of the Border Guard Service, 3.57 million refugees have arrived in Poland from Ukraine since February 24. Currently, about 250,000 Ukrainian refugees have already started working legally.